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Common Knowledge: Skeletons can’t make more of themselves; they can only kill you. The Ancients used to use them in vast armies, because they were easy to make & cheap to field, so most have basic soldierly reflexes & skills. They can see in the dark and even through walls! When you smash them, they just get back up again…
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Animated skeletons are animated directly by Necromancy, much in the same way that Golems are animated by enchantments. They can often reassemble themselves after destruction, never tire, and are relatively easy to make. They are a poor substitute for human soldiers, however, and possess little intelligence, mediocre combat skills, and few-to-no mystical powers other than reassembly and mystical senses.
Common Knowledge: Revenants are murderous, walking dead. Anyone they bite / infect / touch / kill (take your pick) comes back as one of them. If they walk into a graveyard all the corpses & bones will get up to join them. They eat their own dead & crippled, and animals, to gain strength. They can punch through brick walls to get at you, and will if they can’t get through the door. They’re slow and somewhat stupid, though.
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Revenants are corpses animated by malevolent will from beyond this world. No one really knows the nature of this animating force, but Necromancy merely calls it forth and influences it; magic is not its source. Revenants live only to kill, and do so to the exclusion of all else. They have been known to consume flesh, but only when gravely injured or commanded to do so; they almost always abandon a victim as soon as it is dead. Unlike Skeletons, Revenants do spread through their victims, though the precise mechanism for doing so (pathogen? curse? wounds? the act of murder itself?) is poorly understood.
Common Knowledge: Common folk do not distinguish between Wights and Revenants. It is said, though, that sometimes the dead rise of their own accord, rather than to a Necromancer’s call.
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Wights are superficially similar to Revenants, in that they are animate, human corpses. Wights cannot be created by Necromancy, however; they arise spontaneously, and are fettered much in the same way as Ghosts (see below). While they are more subject to physical harm (and, therefore, easier to stop temporarily), they always rise anew until their fetters are resolved.
Common Knowledge: Ghouls are horrid, half-human things that drag people and animals off to their dens to be savagely eaten. While they love to hunt, they also act as horrible scavengers, especially around Revenants, who (for some unknown reason) do not attempt to kill Ghouls.
Basic, Educated Knowledge: These savage creatures are an undead parody of predatory life. They exist only to hunt and to eat. They do not breed (being undead), and a person slain by a Ghoul does not reanimate, but they do manage to expand their numbers through unknown means. Ghouls are often found preying on the refugees of Revenant infestations, as the other types of undead seem to ignore them, and vice-versa.
Common Knowledge: Vampires are daemons masquerading as people. They indulge the most depraved appetites, like cannibalism and rape, to stay in this world. They can’t be killed except by wooden weapons, sunlight, or Holy Magic. They can vanish into thin air, run with drogues or scurry with the vermin, and make you obey their voice or crave their tortures as if they were the touch of a lover,
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Vampires are Men who have bargained their way into a stable state between life and death, presumably with the help of a Daemon or other unholy power. As such, they can never truly die, no matter what fate befalls them. However, they cannot truly live, either. Each carries an attendant curse, which they must satisfy with acts of inhuman depravity (not always involving the drinking of blood; some are less savory even than that), or lose their considerable mystical abilities (which seem to vary widely from individual to individual) and basic vitality, descending into a wreched state from which death can offer no respite. They are rumoured to be vulnerable to certain means of destruction (impalement with wood, decapitation, sunlight, running water, exorcism, holy water, virgin’s blood, true silver or Illyrium, etc.), but several of these means have been seen to be less than 100% effective, leading some to believe that one or more of them need to be applied in a certain order…
Common Knowledge: Ghosts are spirits of the restless dead. They cannot be harmed by weapons or fire, nor stopped by walls or earth & stone. Their touch alone can be deadly, if they wish you harm, killing with frost, age, or rot, usually. Most do not take kindly to interfering mortals, and will strike you dead fo r intruding upon their suffering. Usually a holy exorcism can make them leave, but not always…
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Ghosts are the intangible souls (or echoes thereof, sages disagree) of the dead who are tied to their life by one or more fetters: unfinished business of some sort. Their bodies are made entirely of magic, making them more akin to spirits than mortals, and they are similarly difficult to harm. Like Vampires, they cannot be truly destroyed except in one specific way: the resolution of their fetters. This is different for each ghost.
Common Knowledge: Shades are a kind of Ghost, except they’re not always of a specific person. Sometimes they’re of an event, like a mass murder, or of a feeling, like a starved draun’s hunger, or even the collective outrage of a slaughtered village. Some of ‘em are like annoying poltergeists, while others kill everything around them with horrible magic.
Basic, Educated Knowledge: Unlike Ghosts, shades are a fraction of a person or persons, lingering after death: a thought, a feeling, or an experience. These are almost universially violent and horrific, and can be quite powerful if large numbers of beings shared the same experience, and then perished simultaneously. Since there is not a full mind present, shades usually cannot be communed with, have even more resilience than ghosts, and are quick to violence and destruction. Shades are best avoided entirely, as discovering their fetters may prove impossible, and the creatures themselves are dangerous in the extreme.